Eight weeks ago, I woke up in -6 degree weather. My mom and dad drove me to Denver International Airport. We parked. I checked in. We made our way to security. I said a slightly tearful goodbye. The number of emotions that went into that moment were immense. It wouldn’t be until I was already in Morocco that I would truly understand how much I was going miss them. In that moment, I had no way of knowing that I would be going through a similar painful goodbye only weeks later.
Host Families are incredible. They have to believe in an overdose level of sharing and helping. They endure a person who barely knows their language and knows nothing of their culture. They put up with it all. With time, this person they graciously put up with gest the hang of the language and the culture. I don’t know how they do it. All I know is that I am forever grateful. There were days where I just didn’t want to deal with the language or the culture. But, with time, I made it through.
I turned to my Host Mother—Fatima—during cascorot (third meal of four) today and told her that I was leaving in 13 day. She looked confused. We then went through the schedule of my final days in Bouderham. When she realized I have less than ten days left in the house (next weekend will be spent in Fes, getting final site assignments and celebrating), the look of sadness engulfed her. She proceeded to tell me that I now have two mothers and two fathers—one set in America—one set in Morocco. It was a little hard not to cry. She made me promise that I would come and visit her during my two years in the Peace Corps. I told her I would.
The closer I get to March 23rd, the stranger this becomes. I used to believe that love developed slowly. The thing is, these people were strangers eight weeks ago. After only six weeks in Bouderham, I stopped refereeing to my host family as my host family. I started calling my Host Mother, my mother. I started calling my Host Brothers, my brothers. The change was gradual, but it did happen. It’s hard to believe that this much has happened in such a short amount of time.
I should have known. I learned the lesson of love back in November of last year. I went to Washington because 48 hours with a girl changed my mindset. After a month with her, my life was altered in ways small and big. The more I think about it, love does not act slowly. Whether it is the love of a family member, a friend, or a significant other, it moves fast. Once you push two people together, it happens without warning.
A year ago, right now, I was about to end a two-month relationship. I sat down with a close friend a few days before and told her I wasn’t in love. I wanted to know if I was crazy for expecting love to happen so quickly. She told me I wasn’t crazy. She had fallen in love with her man in mere weeks. I ended the relationship a few days later. Only a few months later, I found the girl that proved the theory right: Love should sneak up on you. If you find yourself waiting for love, it likely isn’t coming.
Love snuck up on me again. I will have to say goodbye to my Moroccan family in less than 13 days. It will likely be slightly tearful—just like my last goodbye back in Denver. The strangest part about this goodbye is that I get a new Host Family in my Final Site…only a few days later. I don’t know how that will affect me. As one of my fellow volunteers explained, “I feel like I’ll be cheating on my original host family.”
I guess only time will tell on that one.
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Great story, Richard. You are so embraced by “parents” because you are a wonderful son!
Love ( American) Dad